Airlines are planning for the same number of business class travelers as before the pandemic struck, according to the boss of Airbus, suggesting the human touch is here to stay in global trade.
Even if companies want to fly less to reduce pollution, they’re afraid of missing out when it comes to meeting clients and suppliers, the plane maker’s Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury told Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag, citing discussions with airlines.
“If they no longer meet their customers, but the competitors do, then they are at a competitive disadvantage,” Faury said in an interview.
“Do without business trips? That does not work.”
The airline industry has suffered severe strain during the pandemic as flight bans kept tourists and business executives grounded.
Carriers will lose about US$48 billion in 2021, the International Air Transport Association said in April, after earlier forecasting a US$38 billion deficit.
Yet Airbus maintained a brisk pace of jet deliveries in May, and its tally for the first five months of the year is well ahead of the same tally for 2020.
That’s an indication of why the Toulouse, France-based company is optimistic about an eventual recovery in demand.
“One thing is clear to me is that people want to fly again. Hardly more, but probably also no less than before the pandemic,” Faury said.
Above all, he said, people want to “fly better” and in future passengers will not book economy but opt for premium economy or even business class.
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